Thursday, November 17, 2011

Global Inspirations on Animal Exploitation

Three days after arriving back from my week in Taiji filming the beginning of the 2011 season where I focused mainly on the captivity aspect as thankfully no dophins were captured during my time, our planed landed in Kathmandu, Nepal. I feel as though I have been sitting idly by while I am able to occasionally get a glimpse at my facebook updates on Taiji.

With sporadic internet connections and even more sporadic and often flickering electricity I had not even been able to post my last blog update. My fellow guardians sent me messages just days after I left saying the slaughter had begun. I could do nothing but cry. I was sat in an unfamiliar room, with even more unfamiliar people, enduring an incredibly tense situation of clashing cultures in a country where I can speak only the minimal of the language, suffice to say knowing I had missed the chance to show my true anger and share those feelings with close friends brought me to a tipping point.

Through uncontrollable events and innumerable tense situations Mohan (my husband) and I resigned to the fact that a life back in Canada was imminent. We began to plan immediately and have been eye-ball deep in immigration forms ever since. Because of this drastic change of plan our return trip in March to Taiji will be improbable (as there is the possibility of being separate for up to nine months with an unthinkable amount of work to do in the meantime). We are instead planning for a month at least in October or November of the 2012 season. I will be living in a familiar city and will be able to fundraise properly this time around so my trip is not cut so short.

After leaving Japan I admittedly felt a niggling hatred for the Japanese culture, constantly listing all of the animal rights violations and environmental catastrophes that culture is responsible for, and it is a lengthy list indeed. I felt blinded to all that was around me for some time until I woke up and looked around. This is not a Japanese issue, this is a human issue.

In Australia I saw mass factory farming everywhere I went with cows covered in deep, open facial and leg cuts, I witnessed men hacking apart snakes just because they could (and not because they were poisonous or “dangerous” as many use an excuse, most were completely harmless, non-venomous species), I saw drivers purposely swerve towards birds, rabbits, and ‘roos. I watched in shock as people kicked dogs and threw rocks at cats.

In Thailand even for being in the country for a day I saw massive amounts of starving street dogs and cats. Everywhere were mass amounts of meat shops, of all kinds as in every country.

And now in Nepal I have seen at this point at least three thousand street dogs, and just a handful of cats, who remarkably look quite healthy. The dogs however are covered in mange, most have large bleeding facial wounds from fights due to overcrowding and competition over food. Many walk on only three legs as the fourth has been mangled and disfigured from being hit by passing vehicles. It is difficult enough for a human to avoid being crashed into twenty times a day let alone a dog who blends in well with its environment (predominantly grey and brown…). Hundreds look like skeletons with fur, curled up against cement stairs as residents casually step over their limp bodies without a glance. If you so much as look at a street dog in Nepal it will jump to the side, being so used to being kicked or screamed at must be a tiring existence. Needless to say many have seemingly given up and simply take to lying in mounds of garbage, occasionally looking up at a passing scooter as more garbage is tossed their way. Of course, I have seen Nepalese citizens doing this exact same thing.

Aside from the `domestic` animals there are the once wild and should-be-free beings. As Nepal is a great country flaunting numerous endangered and dangerous animals the only way to truly `see` these grand species is to jump on to backs of the elephant slaves and traipse into the jungles. After a long and emotion conversation I have my husband convinced that it is more important to see fewer wild animals and not support such a cruel industry than it is to throw away our morals, jump on an elephant and see actual wild elephants deep in the jungle. I would rather pay a driver and only see more accessible parts of a jungle or pay a guide and a guard than participate in such a thing. That being said, we did pay about a dollar (60 rupees) to go into the Elephant Breeding Centre of Chitwan National Park.

On first glance this looks like an interesting place, all the guides hovering over westerners like the vultures they are tote how great the breeding program is. They spout numbers of calves born, how at ten each morning the mahouts (`drivers`) take the elephants into the jungle for a few hours to feed, and just how happy these animals must be to have people taking care of them. So for a few moments we were convinced, then I got a bit closer. Chains do not equal happiness. Chains do not equal freedom. Chains do not equal voluntary action. I walked around the centre once, feeling my heart beat faster as I became more and more angry. I watched the gawking tourists as they exclaimed how beautiful the elephants were, how cute the calves were and how great the program was. Every single of them reminded me of the ignorant people at the Taiji dolphin resort and museum. They all paid out of their pockets at the chance to touch and see these exotic and rare animals close up. And just as in Taiji they pay because they feel safe. These massive animals could easily kill those people if they were free and with good reason too. An animal who has both front legs chained together, to a pole, or in the case of the bull elephants both of these options, does not feel like a threat. These beings are broken. Those elephants that did not currently have a calf were exhibiting the exact behaviours shown by every circus elephant, every animal in prolonged captivity. Head swaying, pacing, any repetitive motion they can do with such confined mobility. Videos of such behaviours are posted below.

The calves are removed from their mothers at only two to four years old where they are then `trained`  by meals of being pulled by ropes attached to adult elephants, subjected to fire conditioning, isolation to break family bonds, and then chained to a wood post or the remainder of their lives. Some arguments for allowing this to continue are the possibility of some calves being released to live and breed with the wild ones thus continuing the species. To draw a comparison with the dolphin molesters of Japan, it really does not negate all the cruelty, the slavery and torture if one in every few hundred are released back into the wild. After all I have seen that happens in the waters of Taiji, not an ounce of forgiveness would be given if they released a few dolphins now and then.

The majority are still subjected to a life of human servitude and oppressive obedience. The elephants of the Chitwan breeding centre are littered with machete scars on their knees and feet, shoulders and behind the ears. Yes an elephant’s skin is incredibly thick, but as I watched the largest bull go from powerful swaying and trumpeting out of musk to standing to a complete standstill with bulging eyes as a single tiny man held a machete against his leg I knew the trainers there go deep enough to instil a memory of pain.

There was a five month old calf that the trainers called over for the tourists to touch (while I felt angry stabs of remembrance of the tourists petting (read: molesting) enslaved dolphins in Taiji). I squatted down and watched, trying to look at this calf and simply enjoy his life and momentary freedom as he was still small enough to man handle and did not yet requires being chained. While all others were groping and pulling him towards them for a better feel I stayed silent looking through my lens. It was only when he came directly towards me and wrapped his tiny trunk around my wrist holding it for just a few moments, looking at me directly, that I realized that sometimes we need to acknowledge non-human animals understand our pain at seeing their pain. They have an understanding beyond what we are willing to think them capable of.

There are also the cart ponies and ox carts that make a compassionate and consciously awake person seethe. Small, delicate appearing ponies pulling carts of up six to eight people on gravel and dirt roads for endless hours. Most of them bore scars of whips, all had fading and fresh wounds from the repetitive rubbing of harnesses, some had split lips from bits being yanked too roughly, which I find remarkable that so few had these as the roads they are forced to walk on are constantly filled the average traffic of Nepal (which to those having not visited this country, or India for similar reference,  is an absolute frenzy of blaring horns, zero lane control, massive pot holes, free running street dogs, and despondent pedestrians wandering aimlessly). 

The topic of animal sacrifice in Nepal is another blog entry entirely as it is so rampant one cannot escape its constant presence.

What saddened me most in seeing these particular acts of cruelty is that the people of Nepal use elephants, oxen, ponies, etc solely for their livelihood, and in reality it is not many people involved (not that livelihood is ever an excuse for animal abuse and exploitation). The most alarming part of seeing all this is not a single passenger on these animals were Nepalese. All but several were white westerners trying to participate in the "native culture". Little do they know that most Nepalese, and especially the mass Hindu population despise these acts. I felt incredibly ashamed when most people assumed I too would be participating. Seeing western people "ooh and aww" over the majestic elephants while ignoring the chains or exclaiming how "neat" the oxen were with the ropes through their noses was beyond sickening. Every person I was able to catch the eye of who were being transported on the ox or pony carts gave the exact expression in return to my look of disgust: shame.  

Animal abuse. Animal exploitation. Animal slavery. It all amounts to the same thing, a global issue of human ignorance. Everyone must start in their own country to try and both prevent and eradicate existing animal rights issues. Not to say going to another country is bad, I am an obvious advocate and participant in that option, but if you are not able to stay in Taiji for a few weeks to document, if you can't come to Australia to protest the grotesque cattle farming, or if you can't come to Nepal to protest the captivity of endangered species, then put your efforts into your own community.

For the next year or so I will need to focus on the community where I grew up. I know there are many groups established and many issues to be fought that I was not aware of until after I left Ontario, but I am returning with a fresh outlook and more passion for liberation than I thought possible.

Let your community be your inspiritation, no matter which part of the world you're in at any given time. 

After Shocks

I had hoped I would be able to overcome the emotions felt while here in Taiji but I feel paralyzed and unable to react, much less write a report each day.

I am thankful to not have seen a slaughter in the week I have been here, I saw several drives but the dolphins outsmarted the molesters (could we expect anything else?). This morning (Thursday, 29th) there were several moments when the bangers puffed black smoke, a sure sign they’re gunning towards a pod to drive in. Thankfully within several hours all the bangers cam in empty handed after a very odd display of boating behaviour. The harpoon held out for almost eight hours today instead of coming in right behind the bangers. This too came empty. Though the weather has been excellent for dolphin hunting these past few days it seems that the migrations through the waters of Taiji have not truly begun, explaining the lack of killing.

I hope against everything that Marley, Carisa, Rosie, and all the other volunteers
 are as lucky as I am to not see a slaughter. I know in October and November this will change but one can hope. I will be back, and then I will most likely not be so fortunate.

This week in Taiji has focused on the captivity of dolphins, the process in which they acquire them and the insanity following. Prior to this week I had seen captive cetaceans only once, at Marine Land in Niagra Falls. Fourteen at the time I was battling internally between having a fit at my grandmother for taking me to such a place or putting my big girl pants on and just having a good day with my grama. Being fourteen, I chose the latter. I could not understand why everyone was cheering and clapping when the thirty foot orca would leap around a 60 foot tank. Why was it so exciting to see dolphins swimming? Is it the proximity? Is it that people feel “safe” being so close to those particular beings when they have been “tamed”?

Dolphins and larger whales have always been and always will be vastly more breathtaking when seen in their natural setting. Skimming the surface, catapulting themselves through waves, flipping and twisting around each other in the open seas. All friends and family I know would put up a fight if they found a dog in a crate too small to turn around in, but the majority of those same people would eagerly go and see a dolphin in a fish bowl.  

They’re exotic, they’re “rare”, beautiful and athletic, capable of masterful feats of strength and agility.

But are you seeing the slavery?

Are you seeing the starvation?

Are you seeing how many die before that one perfect dolphin is trained and shipped out?

Are you seeing their stress, their fear, their depression?

I have seen innumerable abused, neglected, and ill animals in my short life but I have never seen an animal’s spirit beaten until this week.

You can submit a beagle to the most horrendous vivisection and they will still wag their tail at the prospect of having an affectionate pat. You can find a starved pet about to tip over the edge and they will still try to eat if offered to them. Even a factory farmed animal would take any chance at escape. They all fight back and try to survive.

For the past seven days I have stood by and watch a life slowly slip away. This dolphin will not eat unless tube fed, he/she moves so little at times we have thought that life was already gone. To have been driven from the vast expanse of ocean and after having watched the rest of their pod be hacked, stabbed and drowned, to be put into a four walled hell hole of a concentration camp would beat just about anyone. I am surprised that not all dolphins give up, some wise up fairly quickly that doing idiotic tricks for equally idiotic people equals being fed for the day, but some are past caring even when handfuls of dead fish are literally thrown at their head.

They are being driven insane. There is no rationale. There is no validating this. It is torture pure and simple. If humans beings were submitted to such genocide we would be up in arms, I would hope at least. My faith in humanity is at an all time low at the moment.

I do not dislike the Japanese as a people, but I can say I dislike the majority of people I have seen at the harbours and dolphin resorts in Taiji. A complete disregard for the natural world, especially the oceans. The mass cetacean slaughter aside, there is the gross over fishing of Japanese waters (as well as all over the word with countries they are paying off to allow surplus fishing), the complete lack of consideration for pollution and garbage in the waters. We have seen acts of tidying the harbours, the cove, the streets, etc after the recent typhoon, but this is not an act of kindness for the earth. This is to create an image of cleanliness. They do not remove the waste and dispose of it in an appropriate way. No, they pick it up, move it, and dump it into a part of the ocean not visible to the Japanese people or others.

Yesterday we watched as the dolphin trainers/molesters picked up many plastic bags, pieces of Styrofoam, and other floating debris from inside the pens, only to then pick up a floating garbage can, toss it all it, then throw that over the side of the dock, only to let it sink to the bottom of the harbour.

These people make me sick. I have had a knot in my stomach since seeing the first captive dolphin in the pens, now it has turned to stone. A solid, unmoving stone of disgust.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Captivity and Shark Fins

Days in Taiji

Day 2: Captivity and Shark Fins

These have been the two most exhausting days of my life thus far, and it is only just past mid-day. Though a great cause for celebration as the banger boats and the harpoon ship came back unsuccessful the first day and today the water was too choppy to set sail we still stood by to see the captive dolphins captured recently and a year ago.

Up at four again, spotted a female Silka deer on the way, and watched the boats in the harbour, thankfully the wind was strong enough to make the water choppy thus impossible to spot white caps from cetaceans. All the boats stayed in today, the only activity seen from Mountain Pass were molesters going to the captive pens for feeding. The dolphins were tossed a few fish each only after they were forced to jump up and touch their nose to a pole. Non-human animals do not perform tricks of their own free will. It is slavery. It is barbaric.

Top of the Cliffs

Because the drive did not go out we were able to make it to the Katsuura fish market just around the corner from our hotel. Though I am glad to document what we found I wish beyond hope that I had not seen it all. Walking past hundreds of dead yellow-fin tuna, swordfish, and mackerels that were only an hour earlier swimming freely in the ocean was devastating enough. When I rounded a corner I saw a massive pile of slate-blue and white fins all jumbled together in a corner. Grabbing Peter I pointed in it’s direction. As each Cove Guardian walked over I saw faces drop at realising what it was. A pile of shark fins, the equivalent of at least 300 sharks. There was not a single body at the market and these were freshly cut. Shark finning in one of the most brutal industries. Sharks are caught, have their fins and tail hacked off while still alive (hammer head sharks aslo have their “hammers” hacked off), then, finless, are dumped back into the ocean to suffocate or bleed out. Whichever comes first, but the murderers don’t care, shark fin is much too valuable to actually stay ON the shark.  

We checked on Ringi and the others at the Whale Museum then popped into a souvenir shop in the same parking lot. Along side hundreds of whale and dolphin figurines, posters, books, and toys there was a massive cooler the length of the store filled with whale meat. It is sick, beyond sick. I am thankful to be looking through a lens while I am here so I do not need to live in reality entirely.

One more stop at the Dolphin resort to check on those prisoners. It is a concentration camp, there is no other way to describe that place. There is one dolphin in the foremost pen that has been sick for some time. Today he/she was spy-hopping (bobbing up and down vertically). This is a common behaviour that animals develop when kept in confined spaces. Animals on factory farms, fur farms, any aquarium, marine park, or zoo, any animal kept in a cage develops neurotic tendencies. The dolphins in the central pen (where tourists comes to get a kick out of grabbing and molesting the bodies of dolphins) found a stick they were able to toss around in the air and catch with eachother. The rest simple found pieces of plastic and shopping bags to play with. Two individuals had pastic bags wrapped around their snouts and one had a bag stuck to their dorsal fin.

The sick dolphin was then molested into a corner of the pen by four trainers while a fifth gave it an injection and sprayed antiseptic of some sort on his/her tail flukes. This dolphin is so stressed out that with the repetitive spy hopping the tail is being constantly rubbed against the bottom of the nets, where it has rubbed away the first outer layer of skin exposing pale grey flesh and the tips of the tail have been worn away with a constant flow of blood being extremely visible. Every day we will be returning and watching, just hoping that one day we will arrive to seeing only three dolphins in that pen with no explanation as to where the fourth, sick, dolphin disappeared to.

The best you can do help is to stop supporting all fisheries, all industries that exploit the earth. You may think that if you won’t buy dolphin and whale meat that you don’t support the slaughter and insanity but everything is intertwined. If you go to a dolphinarium, aquarium, marine park, or swim-with-the-dolphin program you are contributing. If you are buying any marine life you are contributing to the mass over-fishing of the oceans, which not only greedily take ‘food” for humyns but whose nets also kill on average 12-15 MILLION dolphins annually. If you eat other livestock you are still contributing to the fishing industry as the majority of factory farmed animals are fed fish meal (approx. 1/3 of all the world’s fishing stock is used for this, as well as used for domestic pet food and other materials).

Go vegan. For the planet, the animals, and yourself.

For photos and videos go to and follow @seashepherd on twitter for instant updates. We will not be releasing photos individually, all information can be seen through Sea Shepherd first. To become involved with the Cove Guardian campaign contact for more information. Donations are always welcome and needed.

All together now!

- Adrienne

Taiji: Day One with the Dolphins

Day one reports:

Up at four o’clock to meet Rosie and Peter we headed to the look out on Mountain Pass to watch the boats go out for the drive. We had the brief interview with the local and rather cheerful (with slight frustrated undertones) police. The police headed off but we met them two more times that day. By six they were all out of the harbour (twelve banger boats and one harpoon vessel) so we headed to higher grown to watch them motor out, expecting to be sat watching for several more hours before seeing them come across the horizon line once more. Not half an hour later the alarm was raised that the boats could be seen. They were in the typical “V” formation of a drive, and white caps from terrified dolphins breaking the surface were spotted between the boats.

We raced to Glenda’s Hill in a matter of  minutes, climbing the best stair workout I’ve ever seen in just about five minutes with wheezing and gasping being heard all over the hill. With our team split in two we had fantastic vantage points to monitor the drive. We had a perfect view right into the Cove and the banger boats would have driven the pod directly in front of us.

We watched the pod struggle for three incredibly strenuous hours until they finally made their escape! We could tell the molesters were getting frustrated and angry with not being able to capture the pod. At first only five boats were in formation around the dolphins, but soon they called in the other seven to help. Still no success. Every few minutes we would see a white cap and one or two of the boats would give a great puff of black smoke and dive towards the newly spotted pod. By ten the boats were back into the harbour with many disgruntled molesters milling about.

We were still waiting on the harpoon vessel to return, as in Taiji the quota for drive hunt cetaceans is 2165 per season, the quota for harpoon kills is 509, we needed to be sure they came back empty handed as well. Thankfully both their deck and the ropes trailing behind them were empty (the vessel is too small to hold larger cetaceans so they will simply tie their tails to ropes and attach them to the back of the ship).

 This place is too beautiful to be so full of hate.

While waiting for the harpoon vessel to come in Rosie introduced us to the dolphins being kept at the “Whale Museum”, where you can buy whale and dolphin meat and pat a dolphin at the same time. We are banned from entering the Museum but are able to see the dolphins from the exterior. One bottlenose, donned Ringi, is in a small tank with another, as well as a smaller pacific white sided dolphin. This particular dolphin day after day floats listlessly in one corner of the tank moving only when forced to jump through hoops for the few fish a day allowed to him/her. The clicks I could hear coming from all the tanks were my first hearing dolphins, my first were the depressed monotonous chirps as they occasionally swam to the reaching hands of the museum guests, begging to be fed.

Afterwards we paid a visit to the dolphins captured last year that are being trained by even more molesters at the Dolphin Resort. And these ones really do molest them, the fishermen just hack them apart. These dolphins are kept in group of three to five adults (I’ve seen two juveniles as well) in pens that are no more than five by five metres surface area and approx 2 metres deep. All of these dolphins constantly jump, flip, skyhop, or simply swim in continuous circles from stress and boredom. The police were called shortly to complain about where we parked. Two dolphins were able to escape on the 22nd of september but can be seen every single day circling the pens and communicating with their family members. No cetacean will leave a family member behind, an example of altruism most humans should pay heed to.

One more trip to the harbour to check on the captive dolphins there (where they begin being “trained”, ( read: forced to do tricks for food, very little food). The fishermen/molesters stood watching us for some time until they gave up and most of the cars in the lot drove away. When the harpoon vessel did come in the police were called once more as the three molesters were too afraid to come down the dock while we four women were standing there with our cameras clicking away. After some time we and the police left, with the main officer shouting, “Please make me relax!” as he had been spending most of his day chasing pointless complaints about us around Taiji.

The amount of money the Japanese government is spending on such increased security will show its toll pretty soon, and if not then they’re in some serious denial.

The best you can do help is to stop supporting all fisheries, all industries that exploit the earth. You may think that if you won’t buy dolphin and whale meat that you don’t support the slaughter and insanity but everything is intertwined. If you go to a dolphinarium, aquarium, marine park, or swim-with-the-dolphin program you are contributing. If you are buying any marine life you are contributing to the mass over-fishing of the oceans, which not only greedily take ‘food” for humyns but whose nets also kill on average 12-15 MILLION dolphins annually. If you eat other livestock you are still contributing to the fishing industry as the majority of factory farmed animals are fed fish meal (approx. 1/3 of all the world’s fishing stock is used for this, as well as used for domestic pet food and other materials).

Go vegan. For the planet, the animals, and yourself.

For photos and videos go to and follow @seashepherd on twitter for instant updates. We will not be releasing photos individually, all information can be seen through Sea Shepherd first. To become involved with the Cove Guardian campaign contact for more information. Donations are always welcome and needed.

All together now!

- Adrienne

Arrival in Taiji

Arrival  (22/09/11)

My arrival into Osaka was uneventful though my flight sickness was nothing to get excited over. Once through customs (without them even opening my bag or asking me to take off my backpack!) I wandered around the Kansai airport asking about trains and looking for wifi signals as Marley and Carisa (two fellow Cove Guardians, Canadians, and just plain awesome friends) were not meant to arrive until 9:30, three hours after me.

After a kafuffle with luggage being left behind in Shanghai we all headed to the airport hotel, promptly leaving after seeing the price per person and settled into the comfy aqua cushions in the Kansai departure terminal. The police did a quick whip round collecting passport numbers, names, and reasons for being in Japan. With them out of the picture we only had the cleaning crew and a few other stranded patrons for company. The others were able to sleep for some of the night but I remained awake, too wired to do anything else. After a nine hour flight with zero sleep and almost 30 hours of zero food I should have been exhausted!

Marley being the assertive and persuasive person she is managed to get us a route to Ki-Katsuura when I had failed miserably to communicate where I needed to go just hours earlier. Three trains and a bus ride later through gorgeous Japanese countryside we arrived at our destination. An eerie feeling came over me when we drove past the whale statues at the entrance of Taiji, as though I was on the set of a horror film.

Marley looking out the train window over the ocean in Japan
Once meeting Rosie (Sea Shepherd member and all around passionate person) at the hotel we headed out to find a room, being refused from one we tried another who attempted to refuse us but were able to call out his lies. The information desk at the station had called ahead for us earlier and were told there were plenty of rooms left, but little did he know the persons in question were SSCS supporters!

We settled in well after a quick explore in search of food and video taping the strangest moth that looked and behaved exactly like a hummingbird, though only an inch long he was very convincing.

I spent the remainder of the evening simply preparing mentally for what I might see the next morning, but nothing could have helped and nothing will ever remove what I’ve seen.

On the way to Katsuura

The best you can do help is to stop supporting all fisheries, all industries that exploit the earth. You may think that if you won’t buy dolphin and whale meat that you don’t support the slaughter and insanity but everything is intertwined. If you go to a dolphinarium, aquarium, marine park, or swim-with-the-dolphin program you are contributing. If you are buying any marine life you are contributing to the mass over-fishing of the oceans, which not only greedily take ‘food” for humyns but whose nets also kill on average 12-15 MILLION dolphins annually. If you eat other livestock you are still contributing to the fishing industry as the majority of factory farmed animals are fed fish meal (approx. 1/3 of all the world’s fishing stock is used for this, as well as used for domestic pet food and other materials).

Go vegan. For the planet, the animals, and yourself.

For photos and videos go to and follow @seashepherd on twitter for instant updates. We will not be releasing photos individually, all information can be seen through Sea Shepherd first. To become involved with the Cove Guardian campaign contact for more information. Donations are always welcome and needed.

For the natural world,


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Present and Aware

Though an extraordinarily long time since my last updates (due to traveling from Canada to Australia, being purposely homeless and free for some time, and an absolute lack of internet or energy to bring fingers to keys) the time has come to unleash the most absolute power of my frustration, despair, confusion, and ultimately anger at the fisherman of Taiji. All this neatly packaged into a cool, calm, and stoic persona while I film, record, and vie for the best vantage points of this twisted massacre so many are trying to defend as tradition, culture, or livelihood. There is no excuse strong enough, no rationale rational enough to convince, no pity party poor enough to change the deep seeded emotion that comes forth every time I see those nets across the water; the red streaks in the waves, the feeling of unity in fear I feel when I see video upon video of cetaceans swimming for their lives with walls of sound surrounding them.

Within three weeks I will stood upon those shores. Nearly a year in planning after that fateful decision on Mnt Benson I will be there. No more wishing or worrying about not being able to go. The ticket is purchased, sat snugly in its ever-so-inviting Flight Centre sachet. Funds will be tight, with the proposed trip of a three to four week vigil being shortened to a mere one week. But let not such obstacles dissuade you from completing such a trip yourself. I made decisions that led to this outcome and as the fates have it with this particular trip shortened the opportunities to assist in other worthy ventures has opened. The cetaceans of Japan will not be forgotten from my mind, a return in March of 2012 is in plan (with my husband joining to see the hunt off), as is a return every year until I see the last.

As I stated in earlier posts I am committing my life to helping end the slaughter. Even if all I am able to accomplish is to get the same sort of footage and recordings as all the other Cove Guardians present with me, posting those materials and reaching those few hundred people in my little bubble of a world, then that is fantastic. As with any cause or campaign (and not just particular to environmental or species equality issues) there needs to be those few passionate individuals to make the difference. Especially as we are now so fortunate to have social media to spread information in a near instant, the need for those individuals grows exponentially. My footage may only reach the hundred people on my facebook page, and maybe a few hundred more on the forums I frequent, but there will be several on each who will be as inspired. They may not have the desire strong enough to be on location but they will be inspired enough to spread the message. My hundred people may reach out to another hundred of their own, growing and expanding until everyone in the world with access to undiluted media will be informed; the answer to social change being of course, education.

Watching my activist friends fundraising themselves into an early grave is making me feel as though I have it easy here working in Australia. Admittedly I could have fundraised my heart out but all events happen in exactly the way they’re supposed to. I am able to fund myself for a week on the shores of Taiji, then into the world of severely endangered animals of the Nepalese jungles, for that I am proud, but not nearly as proud as I am of all those gathering every cent available, every bottle and can, even taking to the streets with fruit and baked vegan tastiness, shouting with every chance at the direness of this campaign.

Whilst on my way to Australia and in the country I have seen two pods of dolphins. One darting across the bow of the ferry while headed to the airport, in essence escorting me on my journey to ending the slaughter of their kin (as they also did to fellow activists in March on their trip to Otsuchi for the porpoise slaughter, the guardians of the guardians). The second brought tears to my eyes and an emotion so foreign I can describe it as a sadness so deep as to awaken the fighter in us all. In the waters surrounding the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef I watched, dazed, as a pod of five or six dolphins rolled and leaped out of the aqua waves contrasted against the black cliffs just twenty feet off shore. Without consciously speaking my thoughts I found myself whimpering, “they shouldn’t be any other way, it’s all wrong.”

A short video of "my dolphins" here in Australia. You can hear some of my whimpers, just no coherant words.

Thankfully Sea Sheperd’s presence was felt wholeheartedly in the Cove this past season with an estimated 750 cetacean lives saved. This success will undoubtedly bring even more passionate and willing individuals to volunteer their time and energy. Not to be confused, as this campaign has been happening for twenty odd years and still running strong. I have met many that assume this protest has only been in existence since the release of the 2008 Academy Award winning documentary, The Cove. Those involved in the film had been following aggressive police and fisherman, protesting and filming as cetaceans were brought in  day after day to be slaughtered, and recording every scrap of material available (and sometimes unavailable, but painstakingly captured or found) for decades. The response to this film was immeasurable. In my lifetime I doubt I will again see a response so strong, so determined, and so confident in its ability to change (though one can hope for more). Such is my certainty in education being the answer.

In three short weeks I will join two Cove Guardians I miss from the place I see as my truest home thus far, Marley and Carisa. These two highly motivated and charismatic people will make my stint in Japan that much more bearable. My emotions are vastly conflicted in what I want to see during those seven days. I am aware of my absolute lack of control over the events I am still wishing for seven dolphin free days. There are some benefits to having dolphins being in the cove for myself; ability to get footage to further educate the public, proof that this slaughter is still going on and hasn’t been shuffled away just because the credits on your screen finished, and as I know that my emotions and my reactions to those emotions are kept well hidden until such moments as seeing in front of me the devastation I am curious to see what I am capable of. Anger and sadness are excellent motivators. That being said I would choose to stay unawares of my capabilities if it meant for one week every fisherman went hungry from lack of cetaceans.

Educate. Be the friend that won’t let it go, be the parent that won’t stop fighting for their child’s future, be the teacher that pushes the boundaries of over exposure.

Be there. Present and aware.

In friendship,


All donations still be accepted and are wonderfully appreciated. Please donate even if only a few dollars as every dollar counts! Hotel and train from airport to hotel will be the most costly.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Who's to Blame?

Over these past few weeks I have watched four friends prepare to fly to Japan, listened to them as they speak at benefits and then seeing them leave has awakened a passion I did not know I was capable of feeling. I have thrown myself into the world that is the Animal Rights Movement.

There are four pivotal things/people that have created this overwhelming need to just do more. Do more than I thought I was able. Do more than expected. Do more and make my mark. Do so much more that the powers that be have to start paying attention and acknowledge there will always be people prepared to fight for equality.


I saw this film in the summer of 2008, though I could not watch it in its entirety. I remember silently screaming while I cried as I tried to keep my eyes on the screen. I went vegan immediately afterwards but due to being in a weak mental state while developing an eating disorder (not associated with veganism whatsoever, that must be made clear) I succumbed to the social pressures around me and sunk back into the all too common attitude of, “I don’t want to care anymore”. Over the next year and a half I went back and forth. Then I found Raw Veganism and was able to properly fuel my mind with the carbohydrates from fruit my body desired. I finally had the ability to say goodbye to my bulimia and focus on what truly matters in life; veganism and doing what I can to save those who are unable to fight back for themselves.

Two weeks ago I sat myself down and loaded this movie once again. I watched it in its entirety. No pausing. No looking away. No closing my eyes this time. It was an hour and a half of hysterical crying while I cradled two very confused kittens to my chest.  Seeing the horror that we as a species inflict on the other beings of this earth is sickening. When I acknowledge this I am never more ashamed to be a human being. As painful as this film is to watch it has allowed me to always have those images in my mind. There is no longer a choice when it comes to animal abuse. Being involved in the consumption or exploitation of animals outside our own species, whether directly or indirectly, is abuse. I will never again be responsible for their pain.

I can only hope that every human being is able to watch Earthlings. You can watch it for free online at

Harley Johnstone (aka Durianrider and )

I can say without a doubt that this man saved my life. Without his absolute faith in my ability to heal myself, in my strength to lead a meaningful and healthy life, I would not be where I am now. Through his message of eating a low fat high carb, fruit based raw vegan diet partnered with adequate intake of water, sunshine, sleep, activity, and joy for life I was able to completely surpass my disordered eating. I was able to heal so many health issues I had forced on my body and come out amazingly revived on the other side.

Not only were my self doubts around health lifted but Harley was also able to convince me that I truly am able to do whatever I want in life. How many times as children are we told we are capable of anything, that we are to be the best we can be, but when it comes down to trying to live our dreams all those around us shoot us down. We are told it’s too extreme, too extravagant, too outlandish and too hard to do and achieve. In reality the mainstream does not want success; they want normality, routine, and monotony. To be anything else would reflect on the boredom and regrets of their own lives.

No longer do I question my dreams. I am now empowered to follow my passion; to help those that cannot help themselves and to spread the word of true health and happiness. I will travel the world, writing and photographing and just getting in there.

Without the charismatic and unwavering faith of Harley, along with all the extraordinary support from the members of the 30BaD team, I would not be the strong person I am.

Following the courage I gained I quickly moved to the west coast of Canada, specifically a little farm on central Vancouver Island. Here I met the oh-so-wonderful and inspiring woman we all know as Marley! During the first week of living out here she sent me an e-mail asking if I would like to come to “Vegan Outreach” with her and Mike. I spent a day mauling this over in my mind. Did I want to do this? Can I do this? I must be too shy, I wouldn’t do it I had decided. The next morning I had a, “what the heck” moment and sent off a reply telling her I’d be there!

I will never regret this decision (I have since discovered that my impulsive decisions always yield the best results). The euphoria I felt as each student took a pamphlet from my hands was, and is, addicting. It may seem silly to leaflet and there are so many negative social connotations with such an action but it honestly feels satisfying to watch the faces of young students as they learn the truth.

Shortly afterwards I was able to attend a small protest against the horse slaughter in Canada. That was the perfect stepping stone for me. It was quiet, very tame compared to what I would soon be exposed to. The next protest shot me forward.

As an Ontario resident for the first 19 years of my life living mostly in a small town I was never exposed to horrors of the animal industry so the first time I saw a full fur coat I reacted instinctively. Everyone would become enraged if they saw their neighbour kick their dog, if someone shot a deer on your front lawn, and of course there would be outrage if someone were to publicly abuse their children. So when I saw for the first time a garment that in order to be manufactured dozens of animals had to be either anally electrocuted or knocked out by carbon monoxide gas then more than likely skinned alive I was able to act instinctively.

I have spent my life trying not to be noticed, to draw as little public attention to myself as possible. I now have a cause and a passion more important than simple vanity and self-consciousness. My absolute fear of raising my voice, of being heard, is forever gone. I can now raise my voice to make everyone around me aware of the cause. I will not be quiet until everyone hears the truth.

Another moment was during a hike, we were both out of breath working our way along the paths up the side of Mnt. Benson and without a second thought made the commitment to help end the Japanese dolphin slaughter.

I have never met a person as inspiring, so passionate and courageous as Marley. I have met many that come close, but she has the ability to convince those around them with her brute honesty (similar to Harley, so one can see the sort of personalities I respond well to).  She has introduced me to the world of Animal Rights, throwing away the notion that our ego is more important than the pain and suffering billions are experiencing every single moment, to grabbing onto a cause and seeing it through. She is still very young and I know she will be living this life forever. There’s no turning back once your blinders are removed.

Gary Yourofsky ( )

Speaking of blinders, this man is brilliant at removing them. He is a lecturer on Animal Rights who travels across America speaking to students and the general public. Several weeks ago I happened across a recording of his amazing hour and ten minute speech of Georgia Tech University. It was the most comprehensive and passionate speech I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. I have been watching it several times a week since and it still stirs up the desire to do more.

There is always something more we can do in our lives. As Gary outlines we all pay lip service to the tragedies in the world. We talk about how terrible the latest natural disaster is. We all buy a ribbon or a bracelet whose colour matches the advertisements of our favourite charity. We all “like” pages on Facebook to let our friends know what we support. And none of this helps. These are not actions, these are not directly stopping what we oppose.

We all have the choice to become, “radically kind or we can continue to be radically cruel”. To create the world we want there has to be action. Sitting around writing letters and peacefully protesting business isn’t going to make change. There has to be action, loud and direct. You can make direct change just with the way you eat, what materials you buy. These are actions.

Whoever listens to this man can no longer have an excuse to continue the exploitation of other species.

“It is not your right, and it is not your freedom to do this to them. You don’t get to have freedom when somebody else doesn’t. That’s a violation”.

I am fighting for freedom and I am fighting for equality. Other species are worth fighting for, speciesism is a rampant disease in human society whose cure is desperately needed.

I will not be living the easy life just to avoid the pain of truth. I intend to be back in Japan year after year to see the end of the small cetacean slaughter. And as sad as it is for those lives lost in this most recent natural event, I can only hope there will be enough property and fiscal damage to those running these cruel industries that they may have to rethink taking to the waters next season.

In friendship,